Diving into the Rio 2016 Olympics

To the delight of athletes everywhere, qualifiers have begun for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic summer games—but none was more beautiful to watch than the synchronized swimming event.

British Olympians Katie Clark and Olivia Frederici dive into the pool at the first round of the Olympic Games qualifiers. Buda Mendes | Getty Images

Spring is almost here, and for those of us in cold climates, it can’t come fast enough! But athletes around the world aren’t thinking about April showers and May flowers like the rest of us: they’re in the summer mindset—the Summer Olympiad mindset, that is. This year, the 2016 Olympic games will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, and though the real events are set to be from August 5 through August 21, the qualifier competitions have already begun. Most recently, synchronized swimmers are getting in the pool and competing for the chance to represent their country in the water. And many teams are making a vibrant splash.

The American team, for one, is coming out strong. Qualifiers Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva finished seventh in the duet free competition on Thursday. “We swam with confidence … and obviously, we are very excited to go to the Olympics this summer,” Koroleva, 25, said. British Olympians Katie Clark and Olivia Federici (pictured above), who came out of retirement late last year, placed second at the swimming trials held at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre.

Regardless of country or team, the beauty that was displayed by the qualifiers this week was akin to watching the beauty of a ballet, only done in water. (In fact, the sport has was originally called: “water ballet.”) As far as Olympic events go, though, synchronized swimming is not as well followed as the ever-popular summer swimming races, or volleyball tournaments. But, if you like watching ice skater duos perform at the winter Olympics, you might be surprised by the beauty and grace these athletes have to offer.

Don’t know much about synchronized swimming? Glance at these seven interesting facts about the sport:

1. Synchronized swimming was first proclaimed a sport at the World Exhibition in Chicago in 1933 and 1934, after a demonstration of “The Kay Curtis Modern Mermaids.” It didn’t officially become an Olympic Sport until 1984.

2. “Synchro,” as it’s called, is a blend of acrobatics, swimming, and dance. Perhaps this is why it was originally called “water ballet.”

3. Synchronized swimmers may practice more than most other Olympic athletes. They spend six hours a day (six days a week!) in the pool, plus two hours cross-training “on land.”

4. Synchro is one of only two women-only sports in the Olympics.

5. Most synchronized swimmers can hold their breath for up to three minutes. Though, they are rarely underwater for more than a minute at a time.

6. Synchronized swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool.

7. The international aquatics federation, FINA, requires swimsuits to be in “good moral taste.” (No itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikinis allowed!) But look for swimsuits that “match” the music, much like ice skating costumes at the winter games.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

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